|Latta pushes propane solution|
|Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Friday, 07 February 2014 11:22|
Ohio's lawmakers are fighting for solutions to a propane crisis affecting residents of more than half the United States.
"We've had a perfect storm this winter when it comes to propane record cold temps," said U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), explaining how the shortage came about from increased use for drying grain in the fall, problems with transportation and high exports.
"You put those all together, and we're pretty much coming into a disaster."
In response to a letter from Latta and other Ohio representatives last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx extended a waiver on trucking regulations until March 1 to allow more gas to be delivered. An extension on the number of hours drivers can work before taking time off was set to expire next Tuesday, with an end to the trouble nowhere in sight.
Latta said he's heard of people in the area who have left their propane-heated homes to stay with friends or relatives. But a certain amount of heat is still needed to keep pipes from bursting.
"We know looking at the long-range forecast at home, we're in for a lot more cold weather over the next week," Latta said.
Latta plans to follow up with a letter to President Obama on Wednesday asking him to double the weight limit on drivers transporting propane.
There's no shortage of available propane in the U.S., but the problem has been getting it to the Midwest and East Coast. Prism Propane of North Baltimore and other suppliers have sent truckers to southern states, but there's a limit to how much they can haul.
"This is an emergency, so this would allow propane workers to just about double the amount they can move at once."
In response to a question about safety concerns, Latta said: "You want to make sure that everything's done according to what the Department of Transportation thinks is safe, and go from there."
In the meantime, Prism has offered electric heaters at-cost and asked customers to turn down thermostats and conserve.
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